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Satyajit Mayor

Technical Summary

The cell membrane, shaped by billions of years of evolution, serves as a dynamic interface for cellular communication and response to stimuli. Material exchange occurs through channels, pumps, and trafficking pathways such as exocytosis and endocytosis, while information is transduced by membrane receptors and proteins.
The composition of a cell membrane bilayer is complex and is characteristic of the cell type and state. This diversity is maintained through robust homeostatic processes. The cell membrane exhibits lateral heterogeneity and transbilayer asymmetry in composition, influenced by cellular processes such as cytoskeletal mechanics, flippases and floppases, membrane contact sites, and cellular trafficking pathways.

Technical image

Cell membrane organization dynamics and function: cartoon by Sarayu Beri

Understanding the link between membrane composition and function is a key question. We propose that controlling local composition and shape affects membrane properties, leading to long-range membrane allostery and memory. This is mediated by impacting the function of information sensors and transducers and has consequences for cell signalling, cell migration and cellular differentiation. To test this, we're developing probes to study membrane properties, building technology for conformational dynamics analysis of proteins, and linking these findings to the capacity of the cells to sense and respond to their immediate chemical and mechanical environment.

We also investigate how cells construct functional platforms for the control of specific membrane properties such as tension and composition by focusing on how a non-clathrin and non-dynamin dependent endocytic processes is regulated.
Using cell types from various organisms with evolutionary and developmental significance, experimental approaches in the Mayor laboratory include high resolution microscopy, in vitro reconstitution methods. We engage in intense collaborations with structural biologists, chemical biologists, soft-matter physicists and computational biologists at the CMCB and elsewhere to build multi-disciplinary teams to tackle the challenging problem of understanding the structure and function of a living material, the cell membrane.

Our research accomplishments have been recognized by National Academy of Science (USA; Fellow since 2012), EMBO (Fellow since 2015), and The World Academy of Science (TWAS, Trieste, Italy; Fellow since 2020) and two Indian science academies, Indian National Science Academy, Delhi (2002) and the Indian Academy of Science, in Bangalore (2004).

Recent publications:

Iyer, K.S., Prabhakara, C., Mayor, S. and Rao, M., 2023. Cellular compartmentalisation and receptor promiscuity as a strategy for accurate and robust inference of position during morphogenesis. Elife, 12, p.e79257. eLife 12:e79257

Saha, S., Das, A., Patra, C., Anilkumar, A. A., Sil, P., Mayor, S. and Rao, M. (2022). Active emulsions in living cell membranes driven by contractile stresses and transbilayer coupling. PNAS (2022) 119 (30) e2123056119.

Kalappurakkal, J. M. Anilkumar, A., A. Patra, C., van Zanten, T. S., Sheetz, M. S. Mayor. Acto-myosin driven functional nanoclusters of GPI-anchored proteins are generated by integrin receptor signaling. Cell 2019, 177(7):1738-1756.e23. doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2019.04.037.

Thottacherry, J. J. Kosmalska, A. A., Elosegui-Artola, Alberto , Pradhan, S. Sharma, S., Singh, P.P., Guadamillas, M. C., Chaudhary, N., Vishwakarma, R., Trepat, X., del Pozo, M.A., Parton, R.G. Pullarkat, P. Roca-Cusachs, P. and Mayor, S. Mechanochemical feedback control of dynamin independent endocytosis modulates membrane tension in adherent cells. Nat. Commun. 2018, 9, 4217. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06738-5

Köster DV, Husain K, Iljazi E, Bhat A, Bieling P, Mullins RD, Rao M, Mayor S. Actomyosin dynamics drive local membrane component organization in an in vitro active composite layer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Mar 22;113(12):E1645-54. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1514030113. Epub 2016 Feb 29.